Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue

Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue

Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue

Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue

Synopsis

At a time when 40% of Americans have forgotten that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II, Remembering War comes as a timely and evocative reminder of that critical alliance. Here are juxtaposed the voices of Soviet and American citizens, some famous (Elliott Roosevelt, Gheorghi Arbatov), many unknown, recalling in vivid detail what life was like during the war years. Their stories, supplemented by dozens of rare photographs from Soviet and American archives, draw a vibrant portrait of both the battlefronts and the homefronts, illuminating the war's complex legacy in the relations between our two countries. Inspired by a U.S.-Soviet television exchange, Remembering War offers an unprecedented dialogue among Soviets and Americans, who present recollections of both shared and contrasting experiences, of mutual respect and distrust. A Soviet woman recalls how she and other teenage girls formed their own combat unit, and an American woman pilot tells of ferrying fighter planes to the Soviet air force. Civilians present the sharp contrasts between the two home fronts, and soldiers from both armies remember the famous meeting on the Elbe. Numerous striking photographs capture the drama and poignancy of these moments. These voices and images remind us that only a few years before McCarthyism, Russian War Relief was the most popular charity in America, and the Red Army marched with American supplies. The book also captures the bitter reality of war and the tensions between the two allies. Soviets such as writer Grigory Baklanov voice deep resentment at long delays in the allied invasion of France, and Americans detail and criticize Moscow's secrecy and paranoia. For the first time, Soviets discuss Stalin's actions, the secret protocols of the Soviet-Nazi pact of 1939, and other controversial aspects of their involvement in the war. Many of the photos offer chilling testimony to the horrors of the war, matched by bleak accounts from the survivors of Stalingrad. In Remembering War, Soviet commentator Vladimir Pozner and American producer and professor Helene Keyssar (key figures in the television exchange) have produced a truly remarkable book, a unique reminder of the stark contrasts and forgotten unity in our wartime experiences. Published simultaneously in the U.S. and the Soviet Union, it offers a powerful exploration of the war's legacy and a testament to a renewed spirit of cooperation.

Excerpt

Not so long ago, a book such as this -- a book about World War II that is a cooperative effort by Soviets and Americans -- would have been impossible. For the last forty years, Soviet and American memories of World War II have remained isolated, each from the other. Since 1945, neither Soviets nor Americans have had much opportunity to acknowledge publicly their perceptions of each other as allies and the relation of those recollections to their subsequent confusions and fears about each other. This book thus presents an unusual occasion for citizens of both countries to enrich each of our histories and to remember collectively why and how we fought, and fought as allies, in World War II.

To remember war is to encounter our images of war in the present and future as well as in the past. Remembering together, Soviets and Americans each animate the other's recollections. As a record of these memories, this book is an attempt to acknowledge both those who were present at the events of World War II and those who can and will only know this war as history. To confront the unprecedented horrors of this particular war and to reemphasize the importance of the U.S.-Soviet alliance to the eventual defeat of the Axis is, we hope, to contribute to the avoidance of a future nuclear war.

Survey research, examination of school texts from both the Soviet Union and the United States, and evidence from numerous recent studies suggest that there are many areas of misunderstanding and ignorance about World War II in each culture. Few Americans know the extent of loss of life and destruction of cities, farmlands, and industry suffered by the Soviets in the war; many Americans do not even know on which side the Soviets fought in what the United States called the "Good War." While Soviets are keenly aware of the toll World War II took on their own lives . . .

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